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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  July 26, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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that sort of now begs the question with every one of attorney general session's actions serving in president trump's cabinet, are now still disappointed with that, sir? are you still disappointed with that? it's a very odd construct. obviously sarah huckabee sanders did not want to move beyond any of the language that president trump has already said about a.g. sessions. we've learned that they did not talk at all this week. that much was clear, and that she would keep us posted if indeed they do. i also thought it was interesting that she said the president wants the attorney general to focus on his duties as attorney general. now, i would imagine jeff sessions would say, that's exactly what i've been doing and by the way, that's what i was doing when i recused myself from the russia investigation. >> right. >> was to stay focused on my duties as attorney general. and ones where i won't have a conflict of interest. it is odd to have the president have his attorney general twisting in the wind the way he is but say, i want him to focus on his job. i want him to do his job and even though i'm disappointed in
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him, he can do his job. this story's not over, brooke. they're going to have to, as anthony scaramucci has said, they're going to have to resolve this in some way between the two of them. >> number one on sessions and yes, agree. number two, jeff zeleny -- do we have jeff? i don't see him in the box. there he is, jeff zeleny, in the briefing, the real question that was dominating, i felt like, was the transgender issue and how the president, and we saw him throughout the campaign saying to the lgbtq community,ly stand for you, i will fight for you. it seemed to me that sarah huckabee sanders had a hard time defending the president eats twee -- president's tweets on this one. >> i think in part because this came essentially out of the blue. this is not something that the president had been talking about at all, at least not publicly. this is not something that the president had been working with a small working group or bringing his staff along here. it had the feel today when he did it that he was either trying to, a, change the subject or b,
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give some conservative groups something they've been asking for. but brooke, just a response on the readiness from the pentagon to here at the white house after the president sent out that huge policy decision via social media, not be making an announcement or making an explanation. of course left so many questions here to be answered, and you know, the incoming press secretary, sarah huckabee sanders, quite frankly, had a hard time answering them, even such simple questions as what about the transgender soldiers who are currently in theater right now, from iraq to afghanistan or indeed other parts around the world, what should happen to them. and she said, look, this is something that the white house and the pentagon will have to work on here so it was clear that this is not something that has been either a well-thought out or a well explained to members of the staff here. all she would say is that it was something that the national security advisers discussed with the president and then the president discussed with his defense secretary yesterday. but then someone asked a question, brooke, i thought was quite interesting, talking about the many countries around the
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globe, some 18, i believe, that allow transgender soldiers to serve, and many of them are u.s. allies. and asking the question, if the president, you know, has any concerns about, you know, the troops there, and that, again, was a question that she didn't necessarily have an answer for, and then finally, essentially said, look, i have no more answers to these questions. if there aren't any other questions, wants to move on. but the reason these questions were being asked, of course, brooke, is because the president made a major policy decision via twitter. >> and when you talk to members of the trans community, as we have, doing it over twitter, in one woman's words, disrespectful. let me ask all of you to stand by. we've got a lot more to go through, including health care. sarah huckabee sanders did allude to the event at the white house any minute. the president will be addressing the american legion boys and girls nation, so before the president speaks and before we take that live, i wanted to make sure that we get to health care just a short time from now. the senate is expected to begin
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voting on a repeal only version of the republican health care bill. what we're hearing, it is supposed to fail, but then they'll offer two other options to consider. so, let me just run through them. first, you have what's being touted as the skinny repeal, and this would get rid of the individual and employer mandates requiring health insurance coverage but what it would leave intact would be medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies and protections for preexisting conditions. the other proposal is the graham/cassidy amendment, written by south carolina senator lindsey graham and louisiana senator bill cassidy. it would keep the obama tax on the wealthy and send that tax revenue to the states. each state would then decide whether or not to repeal obamacare or administer their own state-run health insurance program. so, with me now, the co-author of the graham/cassidy amendment, senator bill cassidy, who is
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also an m.d. thank you so much for swinging by the camera. i know you've got a busy day. >> thank you for having me e. >> before we get to your amendment, senator, how do you plan to vote on this repeal only that's coming up? yea or nay. >> repeal and delay, which gives congress a deadline. i've been so frustrated with this process, i think deadlines work. right now, my intention is to vote yes. >> to vote yes. and then on to the skinny repeal, and you, sir, were one of the senators to watch, more oz as a moderate, maybe the concern is with the death spiral that would -- i know hurt a lot of people. how will you vote on that. >> i'm voting for anything that continues the process. we can't stay in this no man's land where nothing happens, where everything is dependent. that's why we're putting up graham/cassidy. we think that's a way to get to 50 votes and maybe even get to some democratic support as well. we've got to move out of this kind of locked, nothing happens, don't know what happens next. >> right, but you imagine -- you mentioned, senator, the magic number of 50, and thus far,
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every amendment that your republican colleagues have been putting up, even including yours, so far, is short of the 50 votes. and so the question a lot of people, you know, conservatives among them are asking, is there anything you guys can do to agree on how to replace obamacare. >> so there has not yet been a vote on graham/cassidy and it may be that it's in conference that we have to fully consider it. we think that gets to 50. i'll tell you why. there are three states right now getting 37% of all the obamacare health insurance payments. think about that. three states get 37% of all the obamacare health insurance premiums. now, if you just say to the senator, no matter whether it's blue or red, you're not one of those three states, maybe there should be equity, maybe no matter where that patient lives, the federal taxpayer support of his or her health insurance should be equal across states, they say, yes. and frankly, many of those states do financially better
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under graham/cassidy than they do under status quo. we think giving those senators that option to vote for fairness is a way to go forward. we still repeal taxes and mandates but we do create fairness and that leaves most states better off. >> so that's your amendment. i hear you looking at the glass half full on the getting to the 50 and we'll be watching to see where you go. but listen, you were there when senator john mccain amazingly stood up before all of you, eleven days off of brain surgery and as he was doing so, he really lectured your party for a lack of transparency on this whole thing. and a lot of senators up until, you know, the vote, didn't actually know what they'd be voting on. is your party botching this? >> i totally -- i do not defend the process at all. i do not defend it at all, and would, and have said publicly, i would have done the process
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better, differently. on the other hand, i think john mccain votes for graham/cassidy. as one example of someone who's clearly a critic of the process, is looking for a way forward, i think -- i can't speak absolutely, but i do think john mccain would end up voting for graham/cassidy and that's why i think it is a way forward. >> this morning, i don't know how often you read the president's tweets, but you know, in one of them early this morning, he singled out your colleague, senator lisa murkowski. she was a no vote on multiple versions of this. or said she would have been a no and then yesterday the procedural vote, she was a no, saying she let her party -- that she let her party and the country down, that this is the president of the united states, you know, tweeting about her. is this a way to woo? >> well, it's a funny way to woo. i think a better way to woo is to have better policy, and president trump during the campaign said he wanted everyone to remain covered, care for those with preexisting conditions, eliminate mandates, lower premiums. that's actually policy that gets
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hopefully bipartisan support. probably won't just because of the way it's all going politically, but if we can fulfill that and again, i think we have a way to do so, then hopefully we can get senator murkowski's vote. she's representing her folks. i'm not going to criticize her. but i am looking for policy that would appeal to her as well. >> while i have you, let me ask you about your former senate colleague and current a.g., jeff sessions. a number of republican senators are, you know, coming out and defending him after the president multiple times has bullied him publicly, you know, called him weak and beleaguered and here's my question. if the president is unhappy with the a.g., do you think president trump should just fire him instead of letting him flap in the breeze? >> i'm not going to criticize -- put it this way. let me say this. jeff sessions is not flapping in the breeze. he doesn't work for the president. he's appointed by the president. he works -- >> does the president realize that? >> i don't know. but i realize it. i think everyone else does. i can't speak for the president, but he works for the american people. he serves at the president's
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pleasure, but he works for the american people. and all the evidence i see is that jeff sessions continues to work for the american people. at some point, president trump may choose to replace him. i think there would be political ramifications. on the other hand, jeff sessions as best i can tell, continues to work if the american people. >> listen, whether you fall left, right, center, the man -- jeff sessions has been doing his job as a cabinet secretary. the last six months. >> totally. >> and you know, my question to you, senator cassidy, is what does it say about the president's character that he is, you know, been bullying one of his biggest supporters so publicly? >> it is a brashness in the presidency that we have not seen before, but we knew we were getting it when he was elected president. and it is a two edged sword. the fact that the president is brash in other circumstances may move people off of settled positions into another position more advantageous to our
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country. if china ends up helping with north korea, almost certainly it's because of the president's brashness with china. so, there is a ying and a yang on it. >> do you think the a.g. sees it that way? >> i'm sure the a.g. doesn't like. i wouldn't like it. in fact, i don't like it on behalf of the a.g. but i will also say jeff sessions is a patriot. he continues to show up every day working for the american people. you can only compliment that. >> yeah. senator cassidy, thank you so much for the time. good luck voting. >> thank you. let's go now back, staying in washington, go to kaitlan collins there at the white house. we know the president is about to speak. tell me about this event. >> reporter: yeah, he's about to speak to a group of young men and women in the rose garden today. these are young men and women who act as mock senators for the day. it will be interesting to see what donald trump says to them because in his speech the other night to the boy scouts, he didn't talk a lot about what presidents typically talk about when they talk to 12 to 18-year-olds and instead he talked about his election win, hillary clinton, barack obama,
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so it will be interesting to see what the president has to say today in light of all the news about jeff sessions and the major policy change that he announced on twitter today. >> here he is. shall we listen? let's listen. >> and i want to congratulate you, what a job you've all done. basically on all you've achieved at a very young age. it's incredible. for decades, the american legion has brought the best and the brightest to the white house. this has taken place for many years. each of you were chosen out of the many thousands of people that, you know, they're all calling in, they want to get in to the white house. is anybody upset that you're here? but you're all really happy that you're here, right? but you represent your state, and that's a very, very important element too, and a very important factor in getting
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here. you all share incredible talent and drive. most importantly, you have each other to really work with and to help, and you help each other, your teammate. you love our country. that's something we all have in common, right? we love our country, right? while you come from all corners of our great landscape, you're all united by your devotion, total devotion, to our great american flag, our freedom and the principles that bind us together as one people and one nation. for more than a century, the american legion has taught young citizens about the importance of patri patriotism and loyalty to our country and through it all, there's nothing like what you're doing today and what you've achieved over a very, very short period of time. we want to thank you, and we
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want to thank the national chapters and everybody else. we have to really give a special thanks to commander charles schmidt. where's charles? where is charles? come here. come here, charles. come on up here, charles. what a great job. come on. you want to -- see? he wants to give you all the credit. who served in the air force for 28 years and now advances the legion's proud legacy. thank you, charles. today, we're joined by president of the american legion and auxiliary, mary davis. where is mary? where is mary? hello, mary. you want to come up here? come on, mary. an executive director who i know verner jones. come on, verna.
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come on up. come on up, mary. careful. i want to thank you for your commitment to these incredible students and to our country. thank you. >> thank you so much. >> i also want to honor former national commander bob turner, who everyone really knows. >> wow. that's pretty good, bob. that's as good as i've ever heard. that's fantastic. come on over here, bob. be careful. we don't want to see bob go down. do you agree with that? because he will never forget that.
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>> i got it. >> this year, bob is celebrating his 35th year helping to lead boys nation all as a volunteer. thank you very much, bob. and bob, i know everyone here today agrees when i say thousands of young americans are better patriots because of your incredible and steadfast service, right? through this program, countless young people like you have been inspired to protect american interests and to promote american values. right? many of those who have been in your place have gone on to become governors, members of congress, generals, and one even became a president.
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you know who that one was? >> bill clinton. >> that's true. see? the american legion has held this meeting for seven decades. just think of the history that has occurred during that time. when the first group of students met in 1946 -- that's an important day, you know why? that's when i was born. i hate to admit it. i hate to admit it. oh, 1946. oh, wow. i shouldn't have said that, bob. our nation had just welcomed home our brave heroes whose spirit and courage achieved victory over tyranny in world war ii. just over 20 years later, young men and women like you watched a man land on the moon and dreamed of new frontiers in space. in 1987, americans all across this nation joined their hearts
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with president ronald reagan in the hope, the prayer, and the conviction that the berlin wall would crumble and the face of truth, justice, and freedom -- you know all about that. in each of these moments, and so many others, america triumphed. we win. we know how to win, right? and we win because of the spirit of our people. believe me, that's a big part of it. just think of the amazing moments in history you will witness during your lifetime. you saw one on november 8, right? that was a pretty amazing -- that was a pretty amazing moment and we're doing a good job. our country is doing so well now. we're doing a good job. you all happy?
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because you have what it takes to be the leaders that will shape this future. some of you may want to come to the capital some day. you're going to be back, many of you, and help make the laws that will guide this nation and govern our land. others may choose to answer the call of duty, put on the uniform and risk everything for our nation and for our nation's people. still others may become business leaders, teachers, artists, and inventors. we have them all, and we have them all here today. and some of you don't even really know what it might be, but we have people that are going to be so successful, so incredible in their lives, and you're going to be happy. do what you love. do what you love. follow what you love.
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so, i want to just tell, as you pour your whole heart into everything you do, really, you're doing it for your family, you're doing it for your country, but you're also doing it for yourselves. because ultimately, you have to do it for yourself. it's better for your country and your country wants you to succeed so much. but there's no country like the united states of america, and there's no country that can give you the kind of opportunity that we give you in the united states. being successful is about finding your purpose in life and never, ever giving up. do you ever give up? no. does anybody here give up? >> no, sir. >> what about here? >> no, sir.
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>> you're right. and i think they mean it. i think they mean it. you were chosen for this program because you believe in america's future and because you have the ambition and the heart to ensure that america will always be victorious and will always prevail. through boys and girls nation, you are learning the values that are necessary for a nation to endure and for a nation to thrive. pride in our history, loyalty to our citizens, and allegiance to our great american flag. in the decades to come, you will help our nation reach new heights. we'll be so proud of you. discover new frontiers and strengthen the bond of loyalty between our country and its people. it is my honor to meet with you
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all today, and it was my greater honor to come out here early before the press got here to take all of those pictures that we took, and i hope they send you the right pictures. and they will. as i look out at the audience, i see the next generation of american leaders. i see the promise of our future. i see the strength and love of the american spirit, and because of young people like you, i am more confident than ever in the future of the united states. together, we will make america greater than ever before. i mean that. going to make america greater than ever before and we're on our way. you see what's going on? we're building up military. we're getting great job numbers, best in 17 years. best job numbers in 17 years. the enthusiasm for manufacturers and business is at just about
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the highest point since they started taking those tests. so, i just want to tell you, go out there, go get them. i have no doubt you're going to, every one of you, be successful. never quit, never give up. always do what you love. take great care of your family and your parents, because we love your parents. you probably wouldn't be here without your parents. right? so, thank you again to the american legion, and congratulations to you all. god bless you, and god bless america. and thank you for being at the white house. >> mr. president, how did you decide your policy on transgender people in the
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military? >> she's very rude. ♪ ♪ we believe in liberty, we'll all stand up and say we'll show our colors america ♪ ♪ we love the usa >> all right. so, president there speaking to young girls and boys in the country. that was the american legion boys nation and auxiliary girls nation and just before some of the singing there, you heard a question shouted back from the media essentially asking the
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president for any kind of comment on his tweet today that took a lot of people by surprise, including the pentagon, on banning transgender individuals from serving in the military. and so you could sort of read his lips, how rude. and that was that. we are moments away. we'll come back to that in just a second. we are moments away, also, from the senate vote to repeal obamacare. we will take you there to capitol hill and also more on the president's continued attacks, public attacks on his attorney general, jeff sessions. what's the point? what's he trying to do here? you're watching cnn special live coverage. i'm brooke baldwin. your insurance company
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today, the commander in chief announced a major decision regarding the u.s. military. this was delivered not through a press release, formally, but on twitter. president trump tweeting, "after consultations with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the united states government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the u.s. military. our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with a tremendous medical cost and disruption of the transgender in the military would entail. thank you."
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the president nor the pentagon has indicated exactly how this will affect the thousands of active duty transgender service members currently enlisted. the white house did respond to some questions about this just moments ago. >> what happens to transgender service members now? are they immediately thrown out of the military? >> that's something that the department of defense and the white house will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully. >> this decision today reverses a defense department policy that's just a year old, which lifted the ban under president obama, allowing transgender military members to serve openly, and one person knows better than most the effect this will have on the military. a retired u.s. navy s.e.a.l., part of the elite s.e.a.l. team 6, a 20-year combat veteran, recipient of a purple heart and a bronze star and the first former se former s.e.a.l. to become an openly transgender woman. kristen beck shared her story in
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this cnn film "lady valor" and now under the president's newly announced policy, if she wanted to ep linlist and serve, she wo not be allowed. i talked to kristen today about the president's announcement. >> i was shocked. i can't believe he came out with it on twitter, first of all. how about a press release, a little respect. i just think it's -- he's citing that money is the issue. i think that the lawsuits and all the contracts that he's going to break and everything else will wind up being more expensive than paying for, you know, someone like me who has cost the taxpayers $0. so transgender doesn't always entail surgery. sometimes transgender is just a frame of thought. it's that i can go out on weekends, i can say the word transgender without being afraid of a witch hunt. not all transgender people get surgeries. maybe i just want to have the freedom to be able to say, i'm transgender. take that into account. >> i'm listening to you. i'm also listening to, you know, some republicans, one
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congresswoman who was just on the air today, you know, reinforcing the president's point about cost. let me play her side of this and then i want your response. >> it's a totally different policy change here. these are individuals that have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which could require very costly medical treatment. i had an intern that was denied the ability to go into the military because she had a bunion on her foot and the argument was that this may cost the military, and she may have to go through surgery. right now, we have people who cannot serve in the military with asthma or with flat feet, so why would we allow individuals to come in, although they're very patriotic and we appreciate their desire to serve, but who have these medical issues that could be very, very costly. >> kristen, let me point out, when wolf pressed her, she had other numbers. her numbers weren't from some formal study. she later said it was from her office. but on the cost side of this, what do you make of the
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financial argument against this. >> the thing is, you're talking about cost and you're talking about recruitment and that's something that we have to consider also. this is two different lines of effort. there is recruitment and there is retention. and that's something that needs to be clarified. now, were they talking about recruitment or retention? a lot of people already serving in uniform who are serving with honor. are you going to break those contracts? and make them leave the military? going to kick them out? are you going to witch hunt those folks or are you talking about recruitment? that needs to be clarified and i don't think that was clear with president trump's tweet. >> right. i don't think it is clear yet and that's why the question is precisely the one you pose. we also read this tweet from california democrat mark, the president just went on twitter to attack 15,000 trans service members who are risking their lives to protect our freedom. how brave, he says. sarcastically, obviously. i mean, obviously, you have friends who are serving actively and also who are transitioning. have you talked to any of them? how are they feeling?
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>> everybody's upset. i mean, we're confused. i mean, for him to come out with a tweet first. how about a press conference. how about having the department of defense come out with some of the policy and let us know this is happening before it's just blasted out on twitter. it's upsetting. i don't understand the leadership problem, you know, president trump has using twitter as his primary communications. there's a lot of other ways to do it that would have been a lot more respectful to the people in uniform and to the american people. you know, how about a little information, more than just a tweet. >> so just even the way in which he did it, kristen, you're saying that lacked -- >> disrespectful. >> disrespectful. >> yes. >> not a lot of people may realize, but on this same day in 1948, president harry s. truman signed an executive order that desegregated the armed forces. historically, america expands rights, doesn't take them away. during the campaign, the president vowed to be more progressive and supportive of lgbtq rights.
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remember, he talked about this even at the rnc. what more does the community need from him? >> well, we don't want anything extra. i don't want any extra money, extra rights. i don't want anything extra. i just want what any other american citizen would be offered. dignity and respect. and the ability to serve my country. that's all we're asking for. i don't want anything extra and to people in uniform, yeah, we're upset. a lot of them are calling me, asking me what's going on and i'm still -- we're all blind sided. and i want those folks who are in uniform to understand that there's a lot of people behind you, you know, take it easy. just chill out. we're going to see if we can fix this. easy clarification from a president would be this is talking about recruitment only, and then we'll talk about retention later on for the folks who are serving right now. >> you had said also from what i understand that the president has no idea that the can of worms he just opened. i mean, what realistically, kristen, can you do about this? >> well, realistically, we can
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go to our congress people and we can vote in 2018 midterms. i mean, oh my god, the biggest power we have as american people is our vote, the ability to vote. if we have less than half the country going out to the polling, the polls every year, you know, that's terrible. so get out and vote. everybody get up off your feet, start acting, start doing something and vote. we're going to make this change. i just feel that this is upsetting to a lot of folks. i think hundreds of thousands, millions of people in america, this will affect directly in some way or the other. you just organized and empowered one of the largest grassroots lobbies you ever could have, president trump, and we're going to vote. so we can fix this. >> kristen beck, thank you for your years of serving this beautiful country, and just thank you so much for your voice. >> thank you. on the heels of that interview, let me bring in cnn political commentator who is also the president of the american unity fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing conservative support
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for lgbtq americans. margaret, as long as i have known you, you are a republican who makes it your business to stand up for lgbtq rights. what do you make of just the timing or the motivation of the president today? >> it's frankly been very mysterious. if you look at it in a vacuum. but there are many, many republicans in the house of representatives and the senate who have come out decisively this morning and said this shouldn't be the policy of the united states military. ken buck, john mccain, richard shelby steele, orrin hatch, joanie, a senator from iowa and former military woman. recently in the house of representatives this was representative vicky hartsler who was on this program this morning. it is her efforts and her singular efforts with a very small kabl in the house of representatives who have been trying to strip funding to transgender military service members since the defense authorization act has been passing through congress. 24 republicans along with all the democrats on house of representatives defeated that effort on the house floor two
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weeks ago. then she went to the defense department to try to get secretary mattis to support this bullying policy towards transgender service members. she that had no luck there. somehow she got to the white house very quickly, somehow in the last 24 hours and president trump or somebody crafted these tweets -- i actually don't think president trump crafted these tweets -- and he put them out this morning. what this demonstrates again is a totally haphazard policymaking process. >> listing off all those republicans, you don't see this as throwing them a bone because a lot of them are frustrated with the president because they're standing by their former senator jeff sessions. >> politico has a piece out this afternoon saying those representatives in the house of representatives who are adamant about stripping funding went to president trump and said, if you want funding for your wall, we're fiscal conservatives, we won't fund your wall if you continue to fund transgender military service members. and so this is, i think, a very small effort from the religious right in the house of
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representatives that is not reflective of the republican party writ large or, as sarah huckabee sanders said, in consultation with military leadership. >> she just kept putting this on readiness and i go back to kristen beck and others in the community, they're concerned, what does this really mean. i think the white house does have some explaining to do on that one. stick around. i have more for you. we are moments away from a senate vote on a repeal only. they're calling this a repeal, replace later, replace delayed. we're going to take you live to capitol hill and talk about health care which i know affects tens of millions of americans. stay with me. for your heart...
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again, watching, waiting, i see the small box on your screen, waiting for votes on all things health care there on the senate side. so stay with me as that is about to begin. but let's talk first about this ongoing presidential putdown of attorney general jeff sessions. for the fifth time in a week, president trump has insulted him, very publicly. here's the latest tweet from today. "why didn't a.g. sessions replace acting fbi director andrew mccabe a comey friend who was in charge of the clinton investigation but got big dollars, $700,000, for his wife's political run from hillary clinton and her representatives. drain the swamp." and the president sent this while a.g. sessions was at the white house this morning. the two, though, as we've learned, did not meet. i want you to listen to republican lawmakers defend sessions. >> the weaknesses that the president is trying to not use his power. he's trying to get sessions to
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quit. and i hope sessions doesn't quit. and if the president wants to fire him, fire him. >> we don't have to sit around and say we like what's going on, that we like somebody that obviously is being brutalized when he shouldn't be and he doesn't deserve it. >> and i think it would be incredibly disruptive and make it more difficult for the president to accomplish his agenda. >> margaret hoover is back with me. kurt is back, former breitbart spokes man and thank you so much for being with me. kurt, let me start with you because we wanted to talk to you. noigs those republican senators coming to the a.g.'s defense, you have conservative media doing the same. rush limbaugh, drudge, breitbart. how do you see this with regard to the conservative media, which we know the president pays very close attention to, is this a war with the president yet? >> well, we're not quite at a critical mass yet, but it does
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show just how revered and important jeff sessions has been as a figure in the conservative movement, particularly at breitbart. i mean, it's been talked about how steve bannon at the time that he was running breitbart, who was now in the white house, tried to recruit jeff sessions to run for president. and when jeff sessions eventually endorsed donald trump, breitbart called it the most meaningful endorsement that trump had gotten to that point. so, this is a very revered, central character to the conservative movement, and the fact that he is coming under assault from the president has really put everybody kind of in the middle of it, whether it's rush limbaugh or commentators like ann coulter or organizations like breitbart, they don't know what to make of it but it shows the painstaking lengths they're taking in trying not to go overboard with their criticism of the president. they're not going all out. if this were anybody else, anybody else criticizing jeff sessions this way, breitbart would declare all-out war.
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there would be 45 stories, they would be calling for apologies, resignations. it would be all out warfare. >> but it's not because it's jeff sessions, and we heard from sarah huckabee sanders, margaret, in the briefing and again reiterating the president's words, disappointed in his a.g. but still someone he wants on the job. how do you see that? i mean, the two men were in the white house together this morning and dchidn't even talk about. >> trump is clearly acting on his own and not listening to anybody and we know that and that's fine. the tone that sarah huckabee sanders uses is that there are many, many people trying to intervene on behalf of vejeff sessions with the president, maybe trying to speak to him, to deescalate this situation because they believe that it will be very damaging to a lot of the movement conservatives who have tried to support the president because they believed in some way he would be their manchurian conservative candidate, he would be the guy
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who got the conservative policies done and evidence of that is that jeff sessions is appointed as his a.g. and others pointededly who have been appointed to cabinet level positions from the movement conservatives, but who have decided to swallow the bitter pill and support somebody who isn't really one of them. donald trump isn't one of them. so there is this tension. and that's what you're seeing in the fact that breitbart won't just totally go after sessions. >> isn't one of the questions, though, kurt, just this notion, does the president truly understand or respect the boundaries between the executive branch and the d.o.j. with the top cop being the a.g.? it seems like if we hear the president saying he maybe wouldn't have picked sessions had he known he'd recuse himself, which is the whole reason he's irked with him in the first place over the russia investigation, it leaves one to wonder, you know, just -- there was a dem sitting in this seat earlier today saying if there's
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no "there" there, then why the issue with jeff sessions. >> i think it shows and illustrates that this president doesn't care about boundaries. in fact, he's upset that his attorney general created boundaries appropriately in recusing himself in the first place. he wants an attorney general who can make this russia investigation go away, whether it's appropriate or not, whether the facts say so or not, and that's really the thing. all of this really highlights, i think, how much this investigation's really touching donald trump. the fact that it's ensnarled his son, donald junior, the fact that his son-in-law, jared kushner, has been entrapped in this. it's completely dominated his presidency and he is so irate this has happened that he has convinced himself that it's all because of jeff sessions. he's put the blame right there on the attorney general. he wants people who will just make these problems go away, regardless of what the law is, regardless of whether
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>> remember, this is a bill that the senate and the house passed back in 2015, but president obama was in the white house at the time and he vetoed this. this is a bill that would get rid of the individual and employer mandates. it would phase out medicaid expansion. it would get rid of a lot of the taxes in obamacare, but what is different now is that it is the year 2017 and this is not expected to pass this afternoon. and that is because too many senate republicans believe today that voting on something to
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repeal obamacare, to gut many a place simply is not viable. i think this is a really, really key thing to talk about. i know in the next couple days we'll spend time talking about individual votes, individual amendments and the nitty-gritty details of what's happening on the senate floor. keep in mind seven years ago and for the last seven years, a campaign repeeling aling on oba. they knew there was a republican president in the white house and it would not become law. now you fast forward and president donald trump is the person in the white house, it is a republican president and republicans are now having to face the reality that they cannot actually stomach or justify to their constituents, frankly, that they have voted on something to repeal the current health care law without a replacement in place.
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>> nia, how do you see it? m.j. perfectly laid it all out, but with these upcoming votes this afternoon, is there any chance that any of them can cross the finish line? >> there is certainly mitch mcconnell's hope. you need a scorecard to keep track of all this. you have people like rand paul on this repeal and delay saying, listen, all of you guys voted on this, all of them except senator collins back in 2017. surely you'll be a person of your word and not be accused of flip-flopping. that was a show vote. essentially it was a political messaging vote, so you're going to have people flip-flop, essentially people like shelly moore capineau out of west virginia. this is about governing and seeing what they need going forward. they said circumstances have
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changed, and that main circumstance at this point is that donald trump is in the white house, sort of the politics and the reality of this are very, very different. >> julie, we were talking this time yesterday during the procedural vote reminding how many years has health care, health legislation been your beat? >> 31. i was really young. >> 31 years. so with your great perspective, again, have you ever seen something like this? >> no, this is just completely crazy. it's expected, as we heard, that this will go down, that even in 2015 it was difficult to get senators capineau to go for this. they're not going to vote for it now. the question is what's next? if they do this skinny bill, this small bill, will the house take that bill? will they go into conference and chiu chew up even more time? they wanted to be done with this months ago. where we go from here, staff
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men members, reporters all saying it's really anybody's guess. >> skinny bill? they're going to need some skinny margaritas when this olympic thing is done in the next couple weeks. ladies, stay with me. this is secretary of state rex tillerson responding to rumors that he's planning his exit. many the term coined the rexit? this is what he's said. >> are you planning to retain your position in the white house? >> i'm not going anywhere. >> how long will you stay? >> as long as the president lets me. >> what's your relationship with the president right now? >> it's good. >> nia, let me pick on you and just ask you about the whole rexit quandary that has confused some people. apparently the man wanted to take a vacation, and that sent a chill through the state department, now he's responding to rumors that maybe he's
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leaving? set us straight. >> i think that's right. you had a state department spokesman essentially say, oh, he's taking a few days off, which was kind of weird language. it came as john king was coining his phrase rented and saying people around rex tillerson was saying he was extremely disenchanted with his job, and that he may have thought rexit -- rex, sorry -- may end his term at the end of the year, essentially saying he gave it a year and then would move on. i think in that clip there, he's trying to tamp down on some of those rumors. the striking thing about that is what else is he going to say, right? he's not going to announce his resignation right there, but it's widely known that a lot of cabinet secretaries are frustrated with this white house, in particular now. you have the president of the united states, a trash-talking
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attorney on general sessions, someone who has been a loyal soldier and certainly working on the president's agenda. the president is really publicly trying to humiliate him. so he i think it sends a chill around these cabinet officials. >> so that was the secretary of state. let me turn everyone's attention now to one of these republican senators who, famously through this whole process, is from the great state of alaska, michelle murkowski. it was 50-51 to proceed with this debate which is coming now. the president, the first thing after he called this thing a win, he tweeted, senator murkowski of the great state of alaska really let our republicans and our country down yesterday. too bad! she has responded to that.
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>> yesterday was in my heart for the people that i represent. and i'm going to continue working hard for a llaskans and just focus on that. i'm not one that follows the tweets. i know that many are. but i have to folk on cus on my. i have to folk on us what i came here to do. >> here's my question, julie. in your 31 years, why would a president, in his effort to woo republicans, why attack a republican senator like that? >> i have no idea. but one thing i will say about lisa murkowski, she was defeated in a primary left and won on a write-in, basically, on the power of her name. she owes the republicans and the senate absolutely nothing. she tends to go her own way, but i don't think picking on her is
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likely to make her more of a team player. it's a very curious strategy that the president is playing. although i will point out that his continual encouragement or telling them they must do this, reminding them of their promise, probably did have something to do with pushing a few people over the line at the end to at least get on with the bill. >> i was talking to senator lindsey graham earlier and asking him about this tweet from the president about his colleague, and lindsey graham, first of all, he said lisa is a strong woman. i think she will be fine. he also said this is a game that the president plays, and we understand it. which to me just sounded a little like senators and members of congress in general, they are getting so used to the fact that this is a daily occurrence that the president will send out a tweet, and i can't tell you the number of scrums i've been in in recent days where the senator
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gets asked, can you react to x tweet from the president? so there is almost an eye rolling exaspiration you see from these senators that often are not even in their own party. >> people aren't necessarily afraid. lisa murkowski certainly not afraid. i think julie is right. a couple of those senators seem to be concerned about what the president was saying and he's kind of messaging, win one for the team, you guys promised. that message seemed to be effective, but this is a president that to some of those republicans is like a toothless tiger at this point. he's got kind of a roar but they aren't necessarily afraid of him. >> right, which is appreciated maybe when it comes to north korea and korcorrespon others b
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to those on the hill. thank you for joining me. i'll send it over to jake tapper. "the lead" starts now. welcome to "the lead," everyone. i'm jake tapper. we begin today with breaking news in our politics lead. just minutes ago the united states senate started voting on the repeal and replace obamacare. while we're speaking, though, it's just to repeal, not replacement, and this does seem headed to failure. the budget office has said just straight repeal and that means 30 million will be without health insurance. they would get smihift to do po suckers who do have insurance. this big vote comes in the thick of other plenty developing stories in the nation's capitol today, including the